Washington, Feb 1. Former US president Donald Trump announced Sunday that he had hired two lawyers to head the defense for his historic second impeachment trial. Trump introduced the lead lawyers — David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor, Jr — the day after reports said several members had left his legal team just over a week shy of his trial before the US Senate.
Schoen is a trial lawyer who has said he met in 2019 with Jeffrey Epstein before his suicide in jail about helping defend the disgraced financier against sex trafficking charges. Castor previously served as a prosecutor who declined to push forward with a case when US comedian Bill Cosby was accused of sexual assault by Andrea Constand. The case moved forward under Castor’s successor and Cosby was convicted in 2018.
Trump, who left office January 20, faces trial on a charge that he incited the mob that stormed the US Capitol building in an effort to block his election loss to President Joe Biden. The trial is historic both because it stems from Trump being impeached a second time during his four years in the White House, and is the first of a former United States president. Schoen had already been working with the defense team, and both he and Castor “agree that this impeachment is unconstitutional,” the statement said.
Schoen has represented Trump ally and campaign consultant Roger Stone. CNN had cited unnamed sources as saying that five lawyers — including two who were thought to be leading the team — had parted ways with the Republican billionaire after disagreeing over his legal strategy. Trump had wanted the lawyers to continue his baseless claims of mass election fraud rather than focus on the legality of convicting a president after he has left office, CNN said, adding that he was “not receptive” to discussion.
The former president has reportedly been struggling to form a defense ahead of his historic trial, facing new hurdles with just days to go. The trial — in which Trump faces a charge of “incitement of insurrection” — is to begin on February 9. But with just five Republicans joining all 50 Democrats this week in agreeing that the trial should go forward, it appears unlikely that 17 Republicans would vote against Trump, the minimum number needed to reach the two-thirds threshold for conviction. AFP